Fall race done and dusted? In November, much of the road racing season is in the recent past. The base building, training and tapering is all all scratched off the list meaning that these next couple of months, for many of us, are a bit of a lull time. The off-season that follows the fall road racing calendar brings well-due relaxation time. The down side though is that this down time often invites poor nutritional habits now that food is no longer fuel for workouts and leftover Halloween candy and new holiday treats sneak their way into the day-to-day diet. This is the time of year to be more aware of nutritional slip-ups. We checked in with Jennifer Sygo, a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist who works with athletes on Team Canada’s track and field team to get some tips for runners to stay on track in the days, weeks and months after their race.
Immediately after the race
Right after a goal race has been completed, many runners feel at a loss. Working towards one event for months can, understandably, mean that there’s a large void once it’s completed. “That can lead to a bit of a funk emotionally. When we don’t have a purpose, we slip into bad habits,” says Sygo. During the time right after your marathon it’s wise to check in: are you snacking because you’re bored or sulky? Best to steer clear.
A week after
“There’s also the reward mentality,” says Sygo. “I’ve accomplished my goal so I’m going to eat the cheesecake I don’t normally eat.” Most of us are a little more strict on our eating whilst in training mode and so reaching for that pint of beer or serving of ice cream is all in the name of celebration… until it becomes a habit. Absolutely indulge in the days after your race, but as Sygo notes, if this behaviour lasts weeks or months versus days, you’ve got yourself a problem.
Over the next two months
So you come off your half-marathon training only to be confronted with Halloween candy and holiday cookies everywhere you go. There’s perhaps no time of year that puts self-discipline to the test more so than the months of November and December. The best solution: either don’t keep the treats in the house or stash them away.”We know if we have access to tempting foods, we’re more likely to eat it. It’s as simple as that,” says Sygo. Another tip: “If you have those things you buy sometimes, this is a time of year not to.” For example, if you throw ice cream or cookies into the shopping cart on occasion, press pause on that until the new year.
Until your next training period
“If your training is reduced, your calorie and carb intake should drop,” says Sygo. Note the word “should” here. A smart habit that runners can easily add to their day-today routine is cutting high-carb sides like potatoes, starchy rice and pasta and swapping them for a healthier alternative. Think squash, beats, turnip or parsnips. That’s not so daunting now is it?